Health systems look to design their own apps

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Health tech incubators aren't just for entrepreneurs anymore. Some health systems are staking out space in the laboratories to rub elbows with innovators and work on their own mHealth inventions.

The latest to join that trend is NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, which has launched "dedicated innovation space" at Blueprint Health, a New York-based accelerator and home base to more than 50 health technology startups. Hospital officials say they'll use the space – and collaborate with others in the incubator – to work on new apps developed during recent hospital-sponsored hackathons and expand their existing portfolio of projects like the bedside tablet program.

With mHealth growing by leaps and bounds, some health systems are finding value in creating apps and software solutions tailored to their own needs. Palomar Health in San Diego, Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City and Boston Children's Hospital, to name just a few, have their own in-house app development teams.

The scarcity of good mobile apps geared toward the clinician also plays a part. During a healthcare conference in Boston last year, Naomi Fried, Boston Children's Hospital's chief innovation officer, pointed out that some 80 percent of healthcare apps on the market are consumer-facing, while a majority of the other 20 percent are existing websites or clinical tools simply turned into mobile apps.

This is prompting health systems to get creative

“At NewYork-Presbyterian, we are constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation," Aurelia Boyer, senior vice president and chief information officer at NYP, said in a press release. “To consistently deliver the best care for our patients, we need to develop forward-thinking technology and build applications that are both sustainable and scalable. We also know that New York City is a growing hub for technology innovation in healthcare, and collaborating with the companies and technologists from Blueprint Health will help NYP deliver innovation more rapidly and with a fresh, entrepreneurial spirit.”

"Innovation at NewYork-Presbyterian is centered on rapid, scalable, sustainable, mobile and measurable ideas,” added Peter Fleischut, the hospital's associate chief innovation officer, in the release. “Working closely with Blueprint and its members will allow us to quickly find and build solutions that meet the needs of our staff and patients and redefine the way we use technology at the hospital.”

NYP's track record with mHealth innovation is well known. The six-campus, 2,500-bed hospital system has held hackathons like InnovateNYP, which took place last March, and offers a website ( dedicated to connecting with healthcare entrepreneurs. The hospital also hosted a "listening session" with Blueprint Health to discuss healthcare innovation, and is planning a challenge to spur new ideas from its own residents and nurses on improving the workplace.